Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Refusing to "normalize" Trump's election

David Remnick, editor of The New Yorker, made a statement on Charlie Rose (Bloomberg, Television) last night that bears not only repeating, but underlining.
Remnick stated as forcefully as he could, “The election of Donald Trump cannot and must not be normalized!”

 So disturbed was Remnick, and so disturbed should the rest of the world be, that he listed some of the deeply negative characteristics of Trump: racism, misogyny, authoritarianism, along with the endorsements he has received: the KKK, the Alt-Right, the American Fascist party. Cozying up to Putin, scrapping the Iran deal on nuclear development, scrapping TPP, renegotiating NAFTA, withdrawing from the Paris Climate Agreement, and then the complex gordion knot of Trump’s business interests enmeshed with the official business of the United States are some of the other difficulties with the potential impact of the election.

This morning’s Trump tweet telling the British government his choice for UK Ambassador to the United States is another verboten diplomatic move, not only raising eyebrows among diplomats, but also embarrassing the country whose highest leadership position he is about to assume is and will be seen to be easily forgotten after he is finished wreaking his havoc.

As the black comedienne, Whoopie Goldberg put it on “The View” today, “Lady Liberty is Green” and ‘I have never known these values to be acceptable in America”…..

Having his children manage his business interests is not, cannot be and will not be the “blind trust” the legal requirements demand. Let’s be clear, no elected official is outside of or above the law on all issues. Just as important is Trump’s contempt for the public and private media, that compulsive-obsessive sponge and megaphone of every utterance made by the president-elect.

Deviance, unorthodoxy, unconventional, surprise, unexpected…..these words will look pale when the new administration accomplishes even some of its stated goals
Infrastructure, for example, poses a significant threat to the body politic. Trump’s offer of initial funding opportunities for the private sector, plus a share of revenue from those proposed project will witness a rush of investment cash on steroids, for the profit the “deals” will generate, while simultaneously robbing the nation of both the responsibility and the ownership and the stewardship of the public good.

Making the opportunity available for business, for ambulances and law enforcement to operate, by generating public facilities of which the public can be proud is a long-standing tradition in both the United States and Canada, where Trudeau is also giving hints that his government too will permit private ownership of public facilities, in order to fund the long-overdue infrastructure projects the country desperately needs. Toll roads, toll bridges….will these lead to toll runways and toll moving sidewalks in U.S. airports?

At root, however, for Remnick, and for Goldberg, the for American Civil Liberties Union, and hopefully for millions of others on both sides of the forty-ninth parallel, white racist supremacy is one of, if not the most heinous prospect that many believe Trump foreshadows, if not actually incarnates. Mein Kampf and all of the memories and fears it evokes, when espoused and championed by a generation of angry white men, (tragically,Trump won the large majority of evangelical Christians too!), must be confronted by surges of hope, cash raised in new and surprising amounts by those seeking to push back against everything Trump stands for. So while hate crimes have surged so too has the flow of cash to oppose, volunteers to become activists in opposition.

Not incidentally, the stock market is reaching higher numbers than ever in history. Is this a signal that the markets are enjoying and even luxuriating in the Trump win?
 Each person can ask him or herself what the deep meanings of this historic electoral result are and how each can take the also historic opportunity to come out of the proverbial closet of apathy, and indifference. Editors in national news outlets, along with editors in small-town weeklies, and local television outlets can examine their negligence throughout the campaign, with a view to rededicating their organizations to a much more critical judgement of the ways by which voter rights are being repressed, by which health care is being gutted, by which ordinary people will be impacted by the privatization of public facilities, by which the long-term values and interests of the nation are being eroded or even trashed.

Just as Henry Kissinger reminded viewers while appearing as a guest on Fareed Zakaria’s GPS, a business deal is very different from a diplomatic “deal”….the former involves only two parties and they may never see each other again, while a diplomatic ‘deal’ involves many players and depends on long-term relationships.


The same is true, when the history, tradition and values of equality, freedom, authentic justice, and the respect of every individual and each ethnicity, religion, language and culture. This is about long-term relationships with ordinary people. The presidency cannot and must not be reduced to the simplistic, reductionistic terms of a for-profit business deal, the modus operandi Trump claims as his signature accomplishment. Even the promise of  jobs and infrastructure must not depend on a single, short-term business deal that make the signatories look good today, if the long-term impact of such deals erode and decimate the tradition and values of the country, for which many lives have been lost, at home and abroad.

Today, November 22, is the anniversary of the assassination of President John Fitzgerald Kennedy and all of us recall precisely where we were and what we were doing the moment we learned of that tragedy. It is an historic watershed in all of our memories and makes us even more energized to protect the values, traditions and aspirations not only for justice and equality but for a peaceful world, that have impelled the nation. And this energy cannot be exclusive only to American citizens. The whole world has a stake in this new and very different historic moment.

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